By Alan Sorensen
ROCKY BOY More than 400 kids from around the United States converged on Rocky Boys Indian Reservation this week to perform repair work to 17 selected Rock Boy homes.
Their efforts are being coordinated through the cooperation of Rocky Boy Housing Improvement and aided by Rocky Boy Schools.
The 427 interdenominational church youth kids and adult supervisors with WorkCamp are being housed in Rocky Boy School classrooms during their off hours. They dine in the school cafeteria and shower in the school locker rooms.
The high schools main foyer is consumed by a large, two-sided A-frame board containing all of the groups work plans and schedules.
The youthful volunteers come from Oregon, Colorado, New York, Iowa, Washington, Kansas, Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, North Dakota, Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, and Michigan. They head out their work sites at about 8:30 each morning and return for the day beginning at 3 p.m. They have to check in as they enter the school.
For this week only, the school office is manned by WorkCamp personnel, who have also taken charge of the phones.
On a carpeted crescent-shaped bench near the back of the main foyer, four telephones were installed so workers can make long-distance pay calls home. A sign suggests that the calls be limited to five minutes.
Tacked on the bulletin board above the phones are letters addressed to the volunteers with a small space reserved for written messages.
WorkCamp director Mike Way said all of the student workers paid their own way to Rocky Boy. Some drove in groups of vans or buses, and others took Amtrak or flew.
Way, who is from Clearwater, Fla., said most of the students funded their trips to the Chippewa Cree Tribes home by working odd jobs or other fund-raising activities.
Andrea Neel-Glass, Portland, Ore., who manned the phones Tuesday afternoon, said the workers are divided into 72 work groups of about six people each with each of them having a special responsibility besides repair work. Each group has a works director, devotional leader, progress reporter, quartermaster to look after the tools, organizer to look after first aid items, and breaker to make sure therere enough food and beverages.
A similar work camp at Rocky Boy a couple of years ago had the same number of kids doing carpentry repairs to homes. Most of the work this year involves painting and ramp and deck construction.
The students are given plenty of opportunity to horse around and take part in a variety of activities at Rocky Boy, Havre, and Great Falls.
After a week in the relentless Rocky Boy Sun, the kids and their supervisors will head home with their hard-earned callouses and memories.
Three young volunteers reclining on the bench outside the school office after showering Tuesday afternoon said the heat didnt bother them. Two boys from Nebraska and one from Wisconsin said the 100 percent humidity theyre used to at home made the dry heat of Montana feel comfortable.